FOUR GATES AT THE UK SUMMER CAMP OF JULY 2008

Four Gates

Grandmaster Wong and Sifu Jamie demonstrating some combat application from Four Gates

“Cross-Roads at Four Gates” was the fundamental kungfu set of the southern Shaolin Temple. It was transmitted by the Venerable Jiang Nam to Sifu Yang Fatt Khuen to Sifu Ho Fatt Nam to Sifu Wong Kiew Kit, who now teaches it in our school, Shaolin Wahnam.

On 24th and 25th July 2008 Sifu Wong taught this fabulous set at the UK Summer Camp. This video series records some of the lessons.

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1. Important Foundation and Signature Greetings

Shaolin Four Gates

One important reason why we in Shaolin Wahnam can have very good results within a short time is because we enter Zen — also known as Tao in Taijiquan or chi kung state of mind in chi kung — right at the start of our training. This is followed by generating energy flow. These two essential skills make every practice in our Shaolin Kungfu a training of mind and energy. Our arts were derived from four patriarchs, namely Uncle Righteousness, Sifu Chee Kim Thong, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam and Sifu Choe Hoong Choy. Sifu Wong also demonstrates the signature greetings from the lineages of these patriarch.

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2. Learning Four Gates in an Hour!

Shaolin Four Gates

It was incredible that course participants learned the fundamental set of the southern Shaolin Temple, “Cross-Roads at Four Gates” in just an hour? Actually the course participants already knew the set. They were asked to learn it from Grandmaster Wong's website before attending the course. The first hour of the course was used to confirm what they had learnt on their own.

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3. Some Interesting Questions from Four Gates

Shaolin Four Gates

Some interesting questions were raised by the students and answered by Grandmaster Wong. Why the elbow struck the palm in “Flapping Wings”, how to perform a low Horse-Stance, and the subtle applications of the Unicorn Step and the “thread palm” were explained. Grandmaster Wong also elaborated on the rotation of the waist, being relaxed in generating internal force, and the importance of the six harmonies.

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4. The Magic of Form, Force and Flow

Shaolin Four Gates

Grandmaster Wong gave some guidelines on how to enhance the solo performance as well as combat application of “Four Gates” or any kungfu set. They are the 3 Fs, namely Form, Force and Flow. The forms must be picture-perfect, executed with internal force in smooth, continuous flow.

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5. Performance of Four Gates with Jing, Qi and Shen

Shaolin Four Gates

Grandmaster Wong explains how the breath is regulated in the salutation pattern to activate mental clarity and internal force. He then demonstrates how the Four Gates set can be performed in just four breaths. How well the performance is can be measured by three criteria — jing, qi and shen — how elegance are the movements, how smooth is the qi (chi) flow, and how vibrant is the performance's spirit.

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6. The Cross-Roads at Four Gates Set

Shaolin Four Gates

The “Cross-Roads at Four Gates” was the fundamental kungfu set at the southern Shaolin Temple before it was burnt down by the Qing Army. The Venerable Jiang Nan brought it out of the temple and transmitted it through GrandmasterYang Fatt Khuen and Grandmaster Ho Fatt Nam to Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit. The video series here shows the performance by Joroen, Nick and Sifu Wong Chun Nga.

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7. How to tell a Master from Ordinary Practitioners

Shaolin Four Gates

How would you tell a kungfu master from ordinary practitioners? There are certain characteristics a kungfu master possesses which informed observers may tell. Some of these characteristics are that a master has shining eyes and a noticeable ball of chi at his dan tian, he radiates force and confidence, and is physically and morally upright.

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8. Some Fine Points in Sequence One

Shaolin Four Gates

“Cross-Roads at Four Gates” looks simple, but it contains many sophisticated techniques. In the first sequence of the set, these techniques are embedded in innocent-looking patterns like “Beauty Looks at Mirror”, “Bar the Big Boss” and “Kuan Peng Carries Insignia”. Grandmaster Wong highlights explains their fine points and demonstrates how they can be effectively applied in combat.

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9. One Hand to Spar, One Hand to Drink Tea

Shaolin Four Gates

Many students would have heard Grandmaster Wong joking that he would use just one hand to counter an attack while using the other hand to drink tea. This joke had its origin from Sequence One of Four Gates. This video series shows Grandmaster Wong explaining how to attain this feat as well as course participants practicing it.

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10. Some Details on How to Use Just One Hand in Combat

Shaolin Four Gates

Using just one hand to counter an opponent's attacks is explained is some details. The main patterns for this feat are “Beauty Looks at Mirror”, “Bar the Big Boss” and “Kuan Peng Carries Insignia”. Good body-work, especially the rotation of the waist, is necessary.

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11. Using Just One Hand to Defend against All Forms of Attack

Shaolin Four Gates

Using just one hand can be effectively applied not just against strikes but also against all other forms of attack, namely kicking, felling and gripping. Course participants have much fun and amazement practicing it. As usual, the sessions concludes with chi flow and Standing Zen, highlighting that all our Shaolin practice is a training of energy and mind.

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12. Substituting a Planned Attack and Countering a Whirlwind Kick

Shaolin Four Gates

If an opponent moves too fast in anticipation of your next move, you can replace that move with another one appropriate for the situation. An impromptu example is shown in Combat Sequence 1 here. At the beginning of Combat Sequence 2, Grandmaster Wong demonstrates applying “Bar the Big Boss” against Sifu Ronan's Whirlwind Kick. Please note that it is not a block, which may result in the defender's arm being broken, but an interception technique.

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13. Sophisticated Techniques using the Tactic of No Defence Direct Counter

Shaolin Four Gates

Some simple-looking but deadly techniques are shown in this video series. Many combatants would be at a lost if an opponent intercepts their sweeping kick and counters with a thrust punch while their kicking leg is still in the air. But applying “Golden Snake on Ground” skillfully will not only neutralize this difficult attack but break the attacking arm. Other examples include the elbow strike, the “toe kick”, and “Sharp Knives” These sophisticated techniques uses the tactic of “no defence direct counter”.

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14. How to be Fast and Forceful Without Panting or Feeling Tired

Shaolin Four Gates

First, ensure your forms are picture-perfect. Next, perform the various patterns in one smooth flow. Then explode force. This progress of form, flow and force is an excellent way to train combat efficiency, besides giving you many other benefits. You will be fast and forceful, but without panting for breaths or feeling tired.

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15. Pressing Attacks, Chin-Na and Taming Hands

Shaolin Four Gates

The start of Combat Sequence 3 is very useful for pressing attacks. An effective ay to stop a pressing attack is to counter with chin-na, which can disable an opponent by gripping his vital points. Good footwork and body-movement are necessary. But if you are skilful, you can release the chin-na grips and press on with your attack, taking care to ensure your own safety with appropriate taming hands.

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16. Chin-Na and Tiger-Claw

Shaolin Four Gates

Uninitiated persons observing a performance of “Four Gates” may not be aware that there are chin-na techniques and their counters in the set. Chin-na is executed here with the Tiger-Claw, mainly for gripping opponents' vital points. The Tiger-Claw can also be used in other ways of attack, like sweeping, tearing, jabbing and striking. The application of the palm thrust to strike vital points, rather than gripping them as in chin-na, is also explained.

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17. Unicorn Step and Poisonous Snake Basing in Mist

Shaolin Four Gates

Two formidable Shaolin secrets are revealed here — the Unicorn Step and the slicing palm. Executed skillfully, not only you can break an opponent's leg with a Unicorn Step, but also it is difficult for him to escape. A slicing palm attack, executed here with the pattern “Poisonous Snake Basks in Mist” may maim or kill an opponent when he least expects it. It is quite deadly, so be very careful when you practice it with your sparring partner.

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18. You may Choose to Apply the Same Techniques at an Elementary or an Advanced Level in the Same Combat Situations

Shaolin Four Gates

The same techniques in “Four Gates” may be applied in combat at an elementary or an advanced level. You may apply “Single Tiger” just to defend against an opponent's attack, or disable him in the same combat situation. Mirror Hand and “Poisonous Snake Basking in Mist” may be used just to ward off an attack, or in the same combat situation maim an opponent unexpectedly.

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19. Amazing Leg Techniques for Attacks and Counters

Shaolin Four Gates

Many people may be misled by the kungfu saying, “Southern Fists, Northern Kicks”, to think that there are little or no kicking techniques in Southern Shaolin. They will be amazed by Combat Sequence 3 where leg techniques are used in a most sophisticate manner not only for attacks but also for defence and counters. The amazing combat applications of “Catch Tiger in Mountain”, which many people mistakenly think is only decorative, are also shown

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20. The Marvels of Catching Tigers in the Mountain

Shaolin Four Gates

“The marvels of Catching Tiger in the Mountain, Only with a master's explanation can one understand” says a poetic tenet of “Four Gates”. Participants at the course have a lot of fun applying the marvels of Catching Tiger in combat

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21. Practicing Combat Sequences for Free Sparring and Real Fighting

Shaolin Four Gates

Course participants review Combat Sequences 1, 2 and 3. It is to their credit that despite just having learnt the sequences which contain many sophisticated combat applications, they can perform the sequences quite well. Many people may wonder how we can effectively use these sequences, which are pre-arranged in routine, in free sparring and real fighting where attacks occur at random. Of course we can, if we follow a systematic combat training programme.

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22. Some Amazing Leg Techniques and Ground Fighting

Shaolin Four Gates

Combat Sequence 3 of Four Gates contains some very sophisticated and interesting techniques that many amaze many people. How would you counter a Muay Thai knee jab, for example? An effective counter which may surprise many opponents is found here. There are also effective techniques for ground fighting. But ground fighting here is not necessarily rolling on the ground, and is different from that in Judo or Wrestling. Combat Sequences 1 and 2 are also review in this video series.

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23. Yellow Bird, Rising Dragon and Galloping Tiger

Shaolin Four Gates

This video series shows the first part of Combat Sequence 4. The organ-seeking kick executed here in the pattern “Yellow Bird Plays with Water” is purposely inconspicuous but deadly, ending combat in just one move. Another pattern that executes the organ-seeking kick is “Rising Dragon Galloping Tiger”, which is as effective as it is poetic, striking an opponent's head and groin at the same time.

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24. Kungfu Patterns are as Beautiful to Watch as they are Effective for Combat

Shaolin Four Gates

Many people, including kungfu practitioners, mistakenly think that kungfu patterns are merely decorative. In fact, some of the most beautiful patterns are also the most combat effective, usually described by poetic names too. These patterns attain their form from evolution through actual fighting. Some examples are found in Combat Sequence 4 shown here.

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25. Skills and Techniques in Combat

Shaolin Four Gates

The four combat sequences of “Four Gates” provide some very sophisticated and effective techniques for combat, with attacks that many opponents may not know how to counter, and with counters that many opponents may not expect. But to be combat efficient, it is not sufficient merely to know the techniques. One must be able to apply the techniques spontaneously and correctly, in picture-perfect form, with internal force and in flowing movement. In other words, combat skills are often more important than combat techniques.

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26. Linking Combat Sequences into a Combination Set

Shaolin Four Gates

The four combat sequences of Four Gates are performed in this series. It is inspiring to note that the four combat sequences are learnt in just two days. These four combat sequences are linked together to form the Four-Gate Combination Set. In our school, practicing combat sequences is the key to combat efficiency. Many kungfu practitioners of other schools also practice combination sets, which they call two-men sparring sets, but they are still unable to apply kungfu patterns in free sparring. Why? The answer lies in our combat training methodology.

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27. The Secret of Subtraction and Addition in Combat Sequence Training

Shaolin Four Gates

As it is in the previous video series, the four combat sequences which form the Combination Set of Four Gates are performed here. Combination sets are also practiced by practitioners in many other schools, and they often call them two-men sparring sets. However, while we use the combat sequences in our combination sets as preparation for free sparring and real fighting, others usually use their two-men sparring sets for demonstration. The secret of our combat sequence training lies in “subtraction and addition”, which form the basis of training in the 16 basic Shaolin combat sequences but not practiced in this course due to time limitation.

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28. Shaolin Movements are Technically Faster than Boxing Movements

Shaolin Four Gates

Firstly, Grandmaster Wong shows how you can use just one hand from Four Gates to handle a Boxer. If the Boxer's punches are on your right, you ward them off with your right Mirror Hand. If they are on your left, you brush them off with your Tiger-Claw. Then Grandmaster Wong shows how Shaolin techniques are superior to Boxing techniques. A Boxer's movements appear fast, but both Shaolin hand movements and foot movements are technically faster.

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29. Using Body-Movement and Interception to Counter a Boxer

Shaolin Four Gates

Why are so many kungfu practitioners unable to handle Boxers? It is mainly because they do not understand combat philosophy and thus unable to make good use of the superiority of their techniques. Grandmaster Wong demonstrates a common, big mistake many kungfu practitioners make when fighting against a Boxer. They retreat in face of a Boxer's fast punches. He then demonstrates how to use body-movement and interception to effectively counter a Boxer.

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30. Counters against the Formidable Knee Strike and the Common Shoot

Shaolin Four Gates

Grandmaster Wong explains how to apply techniques from Four Gates to counter two important attacks — the Muay Thai knee strike and the Wrestler's shoot. The Muay Thai knee strike is formidable; many martial artists do not know how to counter it. The shoot is an unwise move, though many attackers use it. These two attacks are also found in Shaolin, in the patterns “Jade Girl Kicks Shuttle” and “Angry Bull Charges at Fence”, but the Shaolin techniques are executed in a way that the attacker is not exposed to risky counters.

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LINKS

Four Gates at UK Summer Camp 2008

Cross-Roads at Four-Gates Pages

Courses and Classes